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Senate Votes To Raise Federal Debt Limit

January 28, 2010 - by Eric Naing

After a rocky and lengthy process, the Senate today finally voted to raise the federal debt limit to $14.4 trillion, essentially avoiding a scenario where the government defaults on its debt.

The $1.9 trillion increase (H.J.Res.45) passed on a party-line 60-39 vote after months of debate and negotiation. The House passed the bill last year, so it now heads to the president’s desk where it will be signed.

As part of a deal worked out by Senate Democrats to appease budget hawks wary of voting for such a bill, amendments creating “pay-as-you-go” rules and a bipartisan deficit reduction commission were voted on.

The paygo amendment, which requires future legislation passed by Congress to be deficit-neutral either through increased revenue or decreased spending, passed in a 60-40 vote. The House passed its own paygo bill last year (H.R.2920). In a 53-46 vote, the deficit commission amendment failed to get the 60 votes needed for passage. However, President Obama announced in yesterday’s State of the Union that he would use an executive order to create his own deficit reduction commission.

These increases to the limit are a yearly occurrence. In fact, many of the Republicans who railed against this bill voted to raise the debt limit by more than $6.4 trillion under President Bush. One significant difference, however, is that Democrats did not require 60 votes to increase the limit when they were in the minority.

The passage of this bill will come as a major relief to Congressional Democrats as the issue will not have to be revisited until after this year’s midterm elections in November.

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